Using the force of government to put your competitors out of business.
Country stores fear Mesa restriction
The Arizona Republic
Jul. 12, 2006 12:00 AM
The City Council will be asked to approve a restriction that would "effectively kill" popular country stores in many east Mesa mobile-home and RV parks, says a manager of the weekly marketplaces.
"They wouldn't have enough vendors to open the doors," said Don Ecott, who coordinates sales at four parks. "People wouldn't come because there wouldn't be any selection."
Ecott was responding to a proposed requirement that country-store vendors be residents of the parks where they sell their goods, whether they be crafts, Tupperware or body lotions.
Some retailers have complained to the city that the stores, which conduct business from November through March, pose unfair competition because they have little overhead costs and pay no business licenses.
Ecott said, however, that the stores should be no threat to businesses in the area.
"They're open during the winter season for three hours once a week, and that's not fair?" he said. "In addition to being an outlet for crafts and goods that are hard to find in most businesses, they're social gatherings for people who live in the parks during the winter and spend their money and generate a lot of sales tax revenue."
The proposed resident requirement comes from the city's Downtown Development Committee, a nine-member citizen advisory group whose sphere of influence is miles from an east Mesa RV park country store that spawned the controversy.
The committee provides the City Council with guidance on the revitalization of Mesa's Town Center Redevelopment Area in west-central Mesa and serves as the planning and zoning body for projects within that area.
The city's Planning and Zoning Board, which hears zoning cases for the rest of the city, is scheduled to re-examine the country stores issue July 20 and hear from store vendors and their detractors.
The most outspoken opponent of the venues for crafts, produce and assorted goods is Ralph Pew, an attorney for Mesa's biggest swap meet, Mesa Market Place Swap Meet.
Pew said that country stores are not in compliance with the zoning ordinance because they are commercial ventures operating in developments zoned for residential use.
The attorney said, however, that requiring country store vendors to be residents of the parks in which they peddle their wares would solve the issue as far as he's concerned.